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Justice… or piling on?

January 26, 2018

After a lengthy and emotionally draining sentencing hearing that took nearly two weeks — as many of his 156 victims took turns addressing the court and the defendant — disgraced former U.S. gymnastics coach Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. While a lot of people feel that Nassar got what was coming to him, this Huffington Post article relates that a number of legal commentators and scholars have expressed the opinion that Judge Rosemary Aquilina got a little carried away, particularly when she suggested that, if the constitution allowed it, she “would allow some or many people to do to him what he did to others.”

For instance, Brenda Smith, a professor at American University School of Law, made the salient point that Judge Aquilina is “saying that sexual assault is wrong… except as retribution.” The reality, she adds, “is that nobody deserves to be victimized. Her comments suggest that in these type of cases, it would be appropriate, in some way, for people like Nassar to be victimized in custody.”

Jonathan Jacobs, a professor at John Jay College School of Law, even suggested that Nasser’s attorneys could argue, on appeal, that her comments could be construed as showing a sort of animus toward the defendant.

Rest assured: Even in the unlikely event that Nassar were somehow to have his sentence reduced, he will die in prison.  He is already serving a 50-year sentence for child pornography.

 

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